Keeping Your Cool when Faced with Opposition

We've all been there, that point where you “lose it” during a debate or what it really is, an argument. Usually, when it happens, you immediately regret it, and hours later, in hindsight, you think “what I should have said was…”. But how do we avoid that from happening? How do we turn those regretful outbursts into productive and maybe enlightening conversations? Here are a few tips.

1. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture

Discussing multiple issues at once can increase your chances of losing your cool and can detract from what could very well be a valid point of your argument. It is easy to digress when your brain is in a heightened, irritable state. You may quickly bring more grievances to the “complaint party.” However, staying on topic with detailed points to support your opinion will help strengthen your viewpoint.

2. Focus on what the other person is really trying to say

Give the other person a chance to air her grievances and consider it from their perspective. This is not a time to be planning your next attack; this is a time to really listen and consider what was said or done to promote their stance. Also remember, they didn’t come to this battle with notecards and may not be articulating their point, as well as they want to.

3. Don’t be a playground bully

Namecalling is for immature children without the proper knowledge and cognitive ability to property form an argument. These tactics will not win over your opponent. Try using “I” statements that from a place of empathy, which will also show your opposition that you are listening. A statement such as “I am also frustrated by the outcome and agree we need to take action but I have another idea as to how to accomplish it” is far more compelling than telling someone their idea is asinine. Using disrespectful language often results from being put on the defensive because an error on your part has been revealed. Do everyone a favor, if you made a mistake, own it.

4. Take a timeout

Even with our best efforts, we may still find ourselves getting hot-headed, unable to focus on what the main point was in the first place. When that happens, take a deep breath, wait for your turn to speak, and suggest to “agree to disagree.” Most arguments aren’t worth burning bridges over.

What happens when you forget all of these tips, you blow your top and become the playground bully? The good news is that we can still take a deep breath, regain perspective, and rebuild bridges even retrospectively. Go back to the other person, swallow your pride, and directly apologize for things getting out of hand. Honesty, it works better than you think.

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